Murano Part 2

We left off where our intrepid couple had embarked on a mission to find a suitable vehicle to replace the 2016 Ford Edge they’ve been not driving all that much over the last three years.  Hilarity and boredom ensues.  Continue at your own risk.

Having taken the Murano for a test drive, my wife and I, and our salesperson moved into the dealership building to discuss dollars and sense.  We’d still not been completely open with him about our budget, and since we had test driven the top of the line (Platinum) edition of the model, he was thinking we might need to consider going for something less pricey.  Well, we’ve been ‘settling’ for less pricey for most of the last 20 years of leasing, and my wife was in the mood for spending a little more to get more, and I wasn’t about to stop her.  One doesn’t often get the opportunity to ‘own’ something that’s way outside of your own personal price range, so why not do a little ‘mad money’ sort of thing once in your lifetime when the opportunity arises?

Finally coming clean with the salesperson (Doug), we informed him that we were interested in the Platinum model, but the color scheme didn’t really appeal.  I told him that I had looked on the dealer’s website a few days prior and saw that they had the aforementioned Gun Metallic Murano, and after checking my phone, I saw it was still listed as available inventory.  I gave him the VIN and dealer #’s and he was off to the races to see if indeed it was still on the lot.  Now if it had been me?  I would have used the terminal sitting on his desk to see where it was.  The dealer just happened to have a satellite lot about 40 miles away, and it could have been there, since the dealer’s website list didn’t specify which lot it was on.  Just that it existed, and it was available.  But being new, Doug was trying his best to do it right, so he looked in this place, then that, and I think he finally went to one of his superiors and asked if they knew about it, because soon after I saw him leave the building and go out to where they were all parked and start looking at individual vehicles.

Upon his return, he said that indeed it was on the lot, we had just missed it when we were looking at the cars initially.  Although as I recall, I had looked at one that said something about “Graphite” and the color seemed to be about right on the outside.  At the time I had dismissed it thinking the reference to graphite meant the color of the car, not the color of the interior, which is what it turned out to be.  So I actually had looked at it, just not realized it was the one all along.  Regardless, we were delighted to find it was there, so we directed Doug’s energies towards securing it for us, if possible.

Soon after the sales manager came over with numbers and a couple of questions about credit. My wife, being the careful sort, had set up a ‘freeze’ on hers so that no one could open a new account in her name without her knowing about it.  The only problem was, when she had set it up initially several years ago, the company had requested a username, and sometime since, they had gone to an email address/password combination and she was unaware of that.  Consequently,  she was trying to use a username to access her account and getting frozen out (no pun) from being able to access her account to unfreeze the account, so the dealership could check it.   It took about 45 minutes before we left for her to get someone to fix it, and even now at the dealership they were having a little trouble accessing it. One reporting company they could access, but the other (Experian) was still showing the freeze.  So they were only able to get some of the information they needed.  The company she was doing business with had given her a PIN # over the phone, but neither she nor the sales manager had any idea where to input it.  So again there was a small impasse.

Even so, when he ran the credit on the available reporting company, the results came back so stellar they were immediately aware that we weren’t going to be a credit risk at all.  Consequently, things could move forward.  Now came the big question.  How much to put down?  The sales manager had run numbers in the down payment/monthly payment ratio based on the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of the vehicle and our initial suggestion of amount created a monthly payment that was pretty steep.  Of course that can be changed if one puts more down initially.  Since we’re not buying the car, just leasing (borrowing, essentially) the sticker in the window that gets you in the door is based on purchase, not lease.  So what you may have seen as being a possible $21,000 car is actually a $28,000 one, since the sticker on the windshield is for purchasing purposes.  That was something I’d forgotten, I was working under the assumption of what the windshield said, not the sticker on the side window.  Oops.

But fortunately, my wife has no debts at the present time with the exception of our mortgage, and the Edge’s lease was paid off earlier in the month.  Too, she makes more than I do, even in retirement, so she’s a bit more flexible in what she can spend at any given time.  In that vein, she was able to toss a number to him that worked out well on both sides and kept the monthly payment from being too astronomical.  Armed with that information, the sales manager left, and we Doug took that opportunity to call our insurance agent to make them aware we were getting a new vehicle and our insurance needed to be adjusted to reflect that.

However, once he had talked to the secretary at the agency for a few minutes, then handed the phone to me and walked off, the conversation with the secretary took an interesting turn.  She asked me if we were adding the vehicle to the policy in addition to the Edge, and I said no.  She then asked if we were getting new plates for the new vehicle.  Again, I said no, because we were just going to be transferring the plates, since it’s not a commercial vehicle like a pickup, which has its own requirements for plates.  In New York, if your pickup has no cover on the bed, it’s considered to be a commercial vehicle and requires that sort of license plate.  With a cover, its folded under the umbrella of a passenger vehicle or SUV.  Even a Tonneau cover will do, anything that semi-permanently covers the bed of the truck allows this distinction.

(continued in Part 3)

Not cool Citibank, not cool

Over the last few days I’ve been attempting to re-acquire access to my online accounts using the laptop, since my desktop remains down for the count.  For the most part I’ve been successful, but my Citibank account has remained elusive in being accessible.  I encountered the first problem on Wednesday, when I attempted to log on, only to be told that there had been multiple failed attempts to access my account (more than likely by my continued efforts) and I needed to reset my password.

I went through the motions that the site said was necessary, having a code sent by text to my phone, and inputting it in the appropriate place when prompted.  At that point I was prodded to change my password and when I did, I was presented with a screen that said ‘the content you’re looking for doesn’t exist on our website’, or words to that effect.  I tried the same process twice more just to get the same response, so I shelved my efforts to another day.  Which turned out to be Friday.

Friday was the day that we were getting our vehicle (finally) inspected prior to the end of  our lease, so I had to be awake at 6:45 in order to make a call to the dispatch people to be certain the inspector was coming at the right time, to the correct place.  We’d been through the merry-go-round more than once with this and I wanted to be completely certain there weren’t any screwups this time.

After successfully handling that (vehicle came out clean, no issues) I took the time to call the 800 number referenced by Citibank when I was unable to access my account.  After navigating through the myriad of automated menus, I was finally able to speak to a real person.  I told the woman what my problem was, she asked for my checking account # and I told her that I wasn’t a member that had a bank account, I had a credit card.  “Oh,” she says, “you called the wrong number…this is the customer service arm for bank accounts.”  But…this is the number the website gave me.  She proceeded to apologize for the error on the website and transferred me over to the credit card customer service section.  Where I had to wait on hold for another 10 minutes.  No pleasant music on hold either, just dead air.

The next customer service rep asked for my account number and SS #, which I told her the account number but said I wasn’t willing to give out my social # over the phone.  She asked a challenge question and I answered it, these were preset when I originally set up the account 12 years ago.  Thank goodness for my password storage program, or I might never had remembered the Q&A.  But having been given the correct response, she asked what she could do to assist.  So I proceeded to relate my problem again.  To which she had no offering of assistance on her own, I was going to have to be bumped to the technical support people.  Wonderful.  I was beginning to get a little despondent of ever regaining access to my account.  The only lament I had been, my bill was due in about a week and I wasn’t completely positive I still had it on auto-pay, so if I had to do a transaction over the phone, they were going to charge me a fee to do so, because they always do.  It’s not convenient for me if you’re going to charge me more money for taking my money.

So it was back to holding.  And finally I reach tech support.  The woman who I spoke to this time, doesn’t have the information of why I called, but she does want to know my account # and social again.  I mention that I’ve already spoken to two different sections of her company and both have asked me the same questions and been rewarded with the proper responses.  She replies that she has no record of it, and do I want the help or not.  Seems a bit snippy to me, but what the hell, I wasn’t in a good mood at this point either.  So I give her the account #, and tell her I’m not obligated to give out my SS # and she accepts that.  Asks again my problem and I tell her.  She asks what browser I’m on.  Chrome, I reply.

Tech Support Lady: Do you have a different browser you can use?
Me: I have Microsoft Edge, but I’m not confident in its ability to do what I need it to do, which is why I have Chrome.
TSL: I see.  Can you try it anyway?
Me: Sure, but I don’t see the point.

I bring up Edge and attempt to go through the Citibank credit card website. I get the same result as when I was using Chrome. I relate it to the woman and she’s perplexed. Enough to mutter under her breath ‘It should work‘. I’m with you lady, it should have worked the first time.

She asks if I can delete my browsing history and cookies etc. from Chrome. I can, but I have to log out of Chrome so I don’t lose my history etc from all the other devices I use. She wants me to delete ALL of my browsing history, all the way back from when I first started using Chrome. Which admittedly was a while ago. I’m really not interested in losing all of that history. So I log out of Google on the laptop and proceed to delete the browsing history on that particular version of Chrome that’s running on the computer. And then Chrome crashes. Perfect. Have to reboot the computer so I tell the woman who it was going to take a while (truth), and if I needed further assistance I would call back. No sense me wasting her time while I’m waiting for an old Thinkpad to reboot. So I bid her good-bye and wish her a good day, anything to get her off the phone.

Needless to say once I rebooted, I still wasn’t able to access the account. I even tried to use the Citi app on my smartphone but every time I attempted to use either the old or new password, the app replied there was a ‘long wait time’ and kicked me out of the app. Finally this evening I tried a different laptop that hasn’t been used online in over a year. Again I got the same result, but this time I was able to change the password successfully. And when I did that, it all clicked and fell into place. I was logged on. About damn time. I checked my account, the auto-pay was active, so I didn’t have to worry about missing a payment after all. There was a blurb from Citi asking if I wanted to see if I qualified for a credit increase. Just for the hell of it, I clicked yes, answered their questions and was rewarded(?) with a $2300 increase in my limit. Granted the interest rate is still ridiculous, but just about any card is these days. Even if you’ve been a customer in good standing, the banks are inching up the rates little by little about every six months or so, knowing that people are inured to them with more debt so they don’t have a lot of recourse.

I certainly could have done without the merry-go-nowhere that I had to deal with, but anymore customer service is a crapshoot. I know many people who work in call centers, and they say that the people they deal with, have no patience. Well, when things go to shit and you get raked over the coals time and again, there’s a good reason. And this is coming from someone who works in the customer service industry.

The squeaky wheel got some grease

Over the past week or so, both of my blogs have been running really slowly.  And it’s been frustrating the piss out of me, to use the vernacular.  I’ve been holding off on contacting my web domain provider, since they’ve been pretty open on the hosting website that they’re ‘working to fix the problems’ and have had their collective hands full with misbehaving storage servers, as well as attempting to convert their clientele to a whole new storage facility and hosting platform.  Sometimes one doesn’t necessarily want to add fuel to a fire.  Add in the fact that this is part of a larger problem that has been going on for the better part of the past month.

But this past Friday evening, at least to me, enough was enough.  I’ve already paid my monies to them many moons ago, and I’ve not been getting the results that I’ve come to expect for what I pay this company for.  Even though it was the beginning of the weekend, they tout that their assistance/support is manned ‘24/7, 365 days a year‘ so (in theory anyway) someone is always going to be around to look into a matter from their customers.  Which is supposed to be comforting, if indeed true.  Most companies don’t have customer support heavily manned over the weekend, since weekends tend to be down times and people get paid more for working on Sundays.  Consequently, if you’re going to have a catastrophic disaster, try to have it happen during the week.  If you can.

I accessed the support portion, figured out what I was going to say as succinctly as I could and posted my problem.  Then tried to access one of my blogs and was rewarded with a server error, telling me that the website in question was completely unavailable.  Awesome.  I took a screenshot of the error, cleaned it up in Corel Paint Shop Pro (we all can’t afford Adobe Photoshop) and added that to another post so whoever was going to answer the call had something to look at, in order to help.

As I expected, it took longer than a day for someone to assist.  I worked yesterday, so every now and again (too often I’m sure) I would check to see if someone had answered my call for help.  Nada.  The web provider is located in Germany, so they’re 6 hours ahead of me at any given time.  When I checked in last night around dinner time, though there wasn’t an update at the web server support page, I did get an email from them saying that they were ‘looking into the problem’, but as yet didn’t have a solution, so to be patient.  So, I did my best to comply.  I didn’t go to bed at a decent hour last night, matter of fact I stayed up until about 4:30am messing around with a HTML editor I used to use, that I was delighted to discover still works quite well in spite of being outdated and no longer supported by its creator (Hint: Scroll down to the program that’s called HTML-Kit 292, it’s free!).   It connects to the web via its own internal FTP program, you can edit in code, look at your results in real-time and even do things like CSS for your own websites if you’re so inclined.  It’s not a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, but it can help you learn HTML so you’re not having to pay someone else to create a website.  Pretty nifty program, and the price can’t be beat if you ask me.

Right around 4 am, I checked my email and there was a message from support.  They were aware of the problem and asked me to check both blogs to see if they were loading faster.  They were!  Hooray!  But being the skeptical sort, I thought it better to fire off a reply while I had someone’s attention and ask what the problem turned out to be, just in case it returned.  In my initial message, I worded it in such a way as to ask in an aside whether or not the slowness was possibly due to something on my end, not theirs.  The reason for this is, I have other websites that don’t utilize databases, like the blogs do.  The blogs are the only sites that are loading slowly.  The others pop right up when you type in their addresses in the browser.  The blogs weren’t.  So it was entirely possible that it was something on my end that was causing the problem, perhaps the databases weren’t set up correctly and needed to be edited in some fashion.

James from Support replied within a couple of minutes and stated that it wasn’t my end, it was most definitely theirs.  In the process of upgrading and moving customers to a new dataserver (I’d gone through that migration headache about 2 months ago) they encountered a major problem (that I referenced at the beginning of this post) and have been working diligently to fix it, while still attempting to run said server as well as the old one as ‘flawlessly’ (his word) as possible.  Suffice it to say, over the last couple of months, it hasn’t been flawless.  Watching my bandwidth traffic fall like a lead balloon from 8 GB/month to less than 1 hasn’t been either pretty or satisfying.  Couple that with email outages that last several days at a time, and you can imagine it gets one to thinking perhaps it’s time to pack up and move.  Which I did, as a test balloon with one of my domains.  Not certain if I’m going to leave it there, since the service is more expensive than this one, but if they can’t consistently get their sh*t together, I might end up going where it’s more stable.  I’ve been a customer of theirs since 2006, and it’s been pretty steady for all of that time.  A few outages every now and again, but nothing even closely resembling what’s going on now.  The cachet at the time when I first started with them was that they were outside of the US, so if I wanted to post a little ‘questionable’ content, they were ok with it, to a certain extent.  Nothing illegal mind you, but one has to be mindful of the keyholders at times, and that’s pretty much all I’m going to say about that.

I’ve never been a huge fan of making waves, but sometimes, the squeaky wheel can get a bit of grease.  And that’s not a bad thing.